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Canadian Mounties to help police Iraq if asked

In recent years some 1,200 members of the Royal Canadian Mounted Police have been sent to other trouble spots, including Haiti and Kosovo.
Canadian Mounties to help police Iraq if asked
By Randall Palmer, 11 Apr 2003

OTTAWA, April 11 (Reuters) - Canada said on Friday it was ready, if asked, to send its Mounties to help restore order in lawless Iraq, but renewed its criticism of U.S. President George W. Bush's insistence on regime change there.

Prime Minister Jean Chretien said Canada had not yet been asked to help police Iraq, where the fall of President Saddam Hussein has been accompanied by looting, arson and plunder.

But he made clear he was open to the possibility of helping. In recent years some 1,200 members of the Royal Canadian Mounted Police have been sent to other trouble spots, including Haiti and Kosovo.

"If it is the contribution that we can make, we will do it. If they want us to be in something else, we will be in something else. We will be there to help," Chretien told reporters at the announcement of a minor government change.

Canadian Solicitor-General Wayne Easter, in overall charge of law enforcement, said government officials were discussing what to do if a request for police came in. "We are committed to doing what we can as a country to ensure the Iraqi people have public health and safety in their cities as we do in ours," he told reporters.

Chretien's anti-war stance, coupled with often stinging criticism of Bush and the United States from within Canada's ruling Liberal Party, has already hit ties between Ottawa and the United States, Canada's biggest trading partner by far.

Unlike French President Jacques Chirac -- a fierce opponent of the U.S.-led war in Iraq -- Chretien has not issued a formal statement welcoming Saddam's fall, and on Friday he gave it only grudging approval. Asked if he was glad Saddam was apparently gone, Chretien said curtly: "Of course."

But asked if he was glad the regime had collapsed, he said only: "But the problem is, as I explain to you all the time, you know, we believe in a world that is multilateral, and the notion of going here and there to change a regime, which is next? It's always the question I ask myself."

Chretien cited the case of Zimbabwean President Robert Mugabe. He said the Commonwealth had big problems with the Zimbabwe leader, but that did not mean he and British Prime Minister Tony Blair should step in to change things.

"I don't think so. It's not the way that the world should function," he said. "Go there and change the regime -- it's not my option."

The deepening tensions between Chretien and Bush mean that serious questions have been raised as to whether Bush will go ahead with a planned trip to Ottawa on May 5.

So far both sides have said only that the war in Iraq might make it difficult for Bush to come, and Chretien conceded on Friday that the visit might not go through at this time.

"I don't know what will happen. If he were to have a reason to cancel and postpone it, I don't know... So far it's on. But it's coming at an awkward time perhaps for him," he said. "He's still invited, but if he were not able to come, I will invite him to come later."

Strains between the Chretien and Bush administrations have increased in recent months after comments from both sides.

Chretien's chief spokeswoman last year called Bush "a moron" and subsequently resigned. A cabinet minister said Bush had failed to act as a statesman, and a backbench Liberal said she hated Americans, who she described as "damned bastards."

U.S. Ambassador Paul Cellucci, a close friend of Bush, has spoken of his disappointment at Chretien's refusal to join the war and his reluctance to muzzle critics of Bush.

This week Cellucci said he found it "incomprehensible" that Canadian ships patrolling the Gulf as part of the war against terrorism would not automatically hand over to U.S. authorities any Iraqi soldiers or officials they might come across.

(With additional reporting by David Ljunggren)

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dsfsd 11.Apr.2003 14:41



are they going to wear those stupid hats?
its already bad that the americans look like ninja turtles.